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Batteries may be the item most affected by hotel and parasitic loads, but they’re far from the only aspect of the truck affected. Spec’ing the proper lights is also crucial to the truck’s electrical stability.
Most lighting manufacturers recommend LED lighting as the best option, as it draws significantly less power from the truck; while no specific numbers were agreed on, those surveyed said LED lights draw between 50% and 90% less power than their halogen counterparts.
Mark D. Assenmacher, director of marketing for Peterson Manufacturing Co., estimates that 80% of trucks currently spec LED lighting for tail lights and marker lights. He also believes that number is not high enough.
Though LED lights are more expensive, Beth English, vice president of marketing for Truck-Lite, promises that they are worth it in the long run.
“For a halogen headlight, you have an expected lifespan between 1,000 to 2,000 hours,” English says. “The light source is a fragile filament—this basically the same technology used by Thomas Edison when he invented the first commercially viable lightbulb in 1880. They break easily, rapidly lose light output, and the light they provide just isn’t that good.
“Compare this to LED lighting,” she continues. “An LED will last 30,000-plus hours, provide a much clearer, whiter light, is extremely efficient, and is incredibly durable. In the long run, they pay for themselves with lower maintenance costs and reduced downtime, not to mention the safety benefits LED lighting provides.”
There are even more innovations coming to the world of LED lighting.
“There are innovations coming for fleets willing to invest in a complete lighting and electrical harness systems, especially from domestic manufacturers,” Assenmacher says.
“Unfortunately theft can be an issue for LED trailer lamps since they cost more than traditional incandescent lamps,” cautions Phillips Industries’ Dave Lajeunesse. “One method of improving security is fabricating the light in such a way that the lamp is damaged during unintended removal to help deter further theft.”
Overall, most agree that spec’ing LED lighting, while somewhat costly initially, pays off in the long run as the lights will draw significantly less power and can potentially last the life of the vehicle. With electrical demands on trucks increasing, use of LED lights can be an easy way to lighten that load while also giving the truck a higher-quality product.